February 2016          A NEWSLETTER           No. 144


Question: What do Terry Pratchett and Veronica Wallace have in common?  

Answer: They both understand Zeno’s Paradox - AND can make a joke about it.

Pratchett’s version is in Pyramids (the philosopher in the land of Djelibeybi – try saying that aloud); Veronica’s version is in the last Broun’s Reel. Look it up on Wikipedia and it explains why you can never run for and catch the stationary bus. Which stops you going dancing. As does a person from Porlock, unless you’re writing “Kubla Khan”, both of which could stop you going dancing.

On first reading Veronica’s list, I smiled at the incongruous suggestions. On second reading, I noticed it was in alphabetical order, and laughed. A few nights later, unable to sleep, I practically chortled – by this time it was in my memory – and decided that this was possibly Veronica’s best piece yet. I have now decided that the ordinary-seeming Veronica is not even slightly ordinary, and probably understands quantum physics too.

See Malcolm in a pair of trousers or jeans, and he looks fairly ordinary. Yet this fairly-ordinary man has friends on several continents where he has taught Scottish Country Dancing, and they speak with such enthusiasm of what a wonderful man he is. A pioneer of Scottish Country Dancing in Russia and Japan, he has so much empathy with them and understanding of the way they are. I’m not sure why he isn’t working for the UN!  He is now pioneering Able-bodied & Wheelchair Dancing in Russia – in a language he doesn’t speak. Again, an extraordinary person.

Barbara Haughey from my Monday group might be described as everyone’s favourite granny – cuddly, always with a twinkle in her eyes.  (However, not my gran, who terrorized the shopkeepers in our local shopping street!) There is no one who talks more sense than Barbara, and she never has a bad word to say about anyone. Another ordinary person, perhaps, except that I’ve seen pictures of her sitting astride the ridge of the cottage they had in Aberdeenshire, wielding a hammer as she and Dennis repaired or rebuilt the roof. Not many grannies doing that. They lived in both Abu Dhabi and Sierra Leone, and Barbara can really bring these places to life when she talks about them.

We all know that Pat Clark is a brilliant pianist for Scottish Country dancing. She can also play the accordion. And the bodhran. And the drums. And did I see a guitar and a violin on her wall, or just one of those two? I’m sure she began learning to play the clarsach (a small harp) at one time too. When she was in Kingussie she belonged to a small women’s singing group that sang Gaelic waulking songs and mouth music. Like me, she’s a linguist, but has added Gaelic to the languages she learnt in her youth. She can not only dance Ladies’ Step, but teaches it and writes dances. Is there no end to this small woman’s talents?

I established Gordon’s credentials as a Burns aficionado in a previous editorial. One of the things I love about Gordon is his ability to enthuse about a whole variety of topics – Scotland (both land and history), Dundee, Scottish Dance bands, his life abroad… Those who remember the Annual Dinners of old may recall his talent for telling jokes and stories – an excellent raconteur.

I could go on – I am aware of how many people I’ve left out, people who are so very talented, knowledgeable and entertaining in so many ways.  I look around, and there is no-one who is boring, or dull, or even ordinary. I feel that I am surrounded by so many extraordinary people who have extraordinary stories to tell. There are a few people I don’t know very well yet; there is a good chance that they too will be far from ordinary, if the past is anything to go by.  And as Jean Swearman and I keep saying – and even more importantly – there are so many good, kind, and generally nice people in the Scottish Dance world. Quite extraordinary!

Joyce Cochrane  

Notes on a dancing-and-walking holiday in Morecambe, November 2015

Jennifer Robinson kindly supplied this impressive photograph showing some of us on the sea front being tripperish, not to mention dancing at every opportunity. It was probably raining; it was for most of the time – not just raining but bucketing down and threatening to blow us over. (Have you ever seen white horses in Morecambe Bay?). The second afternoon’s walk, intended to start from outside Morecambe, consisted of a trip to the bus stop, maybe 20 yards, followed by a quick sprint back to the hotel ‒ and those who completed this marathon were soaked. (Appropriately, I’ve just received an appeal from the Dogs Trust asking me to be a ‘Secret Santa to abandoned dogs like Eric and Ernie’. Wonder what Rudolf would think – and where is Ernie?)

But this holiday was particularly good for the Scottish dancing. Three mornings of workshops were devoted to ‘interesting and challenging’ dances, as our leader/mentor Geoff, who is very brave and endlessly patient, rather despairingly described them. He’d not had much success with the same selection at a previous holiday, apparently, but fortunately the members of our group were all dancers who more-or-less knew what they were doing, even if they couldn’t remember for more than five minutes. Here are some of the dances we enjoyed (if you can call it that) in these sessions:

The Huntsman   Very proud of ‘my’ set, who managed it all four times through without once falling down on the 4-couple Rights & Lefts

Hooper’s Double Jig   Much easier than The Huntsman but similar in that you have to remember where you are for the crossings

Half Crown Jig   Funnily enough, nearly all of us remembered the old (proper) currency so understood the title of this dance for 8 dancers, 2 in the middle, 6 on the sides

Honeysuckle and the Bindweed   (They climb in opposite directions, it’s claimed.) Each four times through separately – relatively easy.  Eight times through alternating, as it’s supposed to be danced – fortunately no time to try...

That’s enough of the list! – except to mention that, as usual on these holidays, the morning sessions ended with everyone’s favourite, Mrs. Stuart Linnell (I’m still rooting for it to become a familiar dance in York!). Dance programmes in the evenings were less demanding and great fun, especially as we had to dance round the puddles caused by a leaking roof.

Veronica Wallace, York


As usual, the subscription form for the Branch is included in the February edition of Broun’s Reel.  It is three years since the subscription was increased.   The main part of the money from it goes to the RSCDS Headquarters (to pay for the twice yearly Magazine, production of CDs and Books, and all the other administrative activity) and a small amount is paid to the Branch for its administration.   In 2013 we reduced the Branch portion from £3 to £2 so that the total was an easy £20.   At the RSCDS AGM in November 2015, the Management Board proposed that the RSCDS portion should be increased by £2, this motion was carried.

As a result of this decision, the committee has agreed to increase the Branch portion of the subscription to £3 and therefore the total Branch subscription from 1st March 2016 will be £23 for a single member and £37 for joint household members.

I look forward to receiving your subscriptions shortly, either directly to me or to a committee member who will pass it on.   Thank you.

                    Helen Brown, Secretary   


Our Annual dance this year takes place not in March but on Saturday 2nd April, at the Village Hall in Stockton on the Forest.   The dance will cost £12 (RSCDS members)/ £14 (non-members), and you are asked to bring contributions to a Faith Supper. The programme, to the music of Andrew Knight and the West Telferton Band, has been devised by Allan Highet:


Our April Dance will be held on Saturday 23rd April in the Community Hall in Station Road, Market Weighton, the venue for the AGM for the last two years – YO43 3AX for Satnav users. The AGM should be fairly short and will be held during the interval. People never get coerced into doing something they don’t want at the meeting, so do come! The price is £4 for RSCDS members and £5 for non-members, and you are asked to bring contributions to a faith supper – as ever, preferably on a disposable plate.

The programme, slightly shorter to allow time for the AGM, has been chosen by Dorothy and will be danced to recorded music:

Please do consider standing for the Committee next year!

Your branch needs you!

Please notify any topics for discussion at the AGM in advance


Our Branch Dance on 14th May will be held in the Memorial Hall, Pickering,  beginning at 7.30 p.m. As usual at Pickering, we will dance to live music, provided this year by Ian Slater. You are asked to bring contributions to a Faith Supper, preferably on disposable plates. The price is £7.50 for members and non-members alike.

PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS IS A TICKET ONLY EVENT – tickets are limited to 60.

The programme has been devised by Sheila Barnes and Jennifer Robinson.

Walkng/dancing holiday

Subscriptions 2016